What can babies see? That is one of the most common questions that new parents ask. The traditional answer is that newborns are essentially blind and see only shadows. But babies can see a great deal, even right from birth. This entry discusses how we test babies’ vision, what newborns can see, how vision changes throughout the life span, and why it changes.

Testing Methods

Two main methods have been used to test babies’ vision: preferential looking and habituation. Preferential looking relies on the fact that even newborns will look longer at a pattern than at plain gray—if they can see the pattern. They will also look longer at one pattern than another if they can tell the difference between them and naturally prefer one to the ...

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